251. Photograph

There is inevitably a lot of waiting around in any kind of show biz. This does not usually bother me, because if I have a guitar in my hands, I can’t really be bored. Sometimes I’ll be restless, but my hands will have minds of their own and go off and play stuff, figuring out the chords to songs I’ve heard on the radio, trying out variations on songs of our own, and playing with progressions and things.

I was having one of those moments on the stage, while they messed around with the lights trying to get certain things focused where they were supposed to be. We each had to stand in our spot. Did I mention I found it really weird to have no microphone stand? Instead I had a square box about the size of two packs of cigarettes clipped to the back of my jeans, and the headset. There was still the array of effects boxes delineating my spot, though. The guitars themselves weren’t wireless, but the lead was long. I could cross all the way to Bart’s side of the stage without running out, but that opened the possibility of tripping Ziggy. When we played smaller stages I wasn’t afraid to wander around, but we wanted to reduce the variables of what could go wrong as much as possible. So yeah: wireless mic so I could hit my mark for the “duet” with Ziggy and otherwise wander on my side of the stage. Reese assured me by next tour even the guitars would be wireless, some cool tech coming down the pike. I’d cross that bridge when we came to it.

But as I was saying, I was having one of those moments where my hands were playing something before my head really paid attention to what it was. Bart picked it up, though, and as soon as he started playing along I realized what it was. Sting’s “Love is the Seventh Wave.” The year we’d met, Bart had played the Dream of the Blue Turtles album about a thousand times, and had basically memorized all the parts. I’d just picked them up by osmosis. Christian looked like he hadn’t quite placed what the song was, but kind of figured out a drum part that fit. We didn’t actually get very far in the song–the lighting stuff didn’t actually take more than a couple of minutes, and then we had our real soundcheck.

The Cow Palace. It was twice the size of the place in Seattle, but it played a lot bigger. Something about how it was built, I guess. It felt like there were two hundred thousand people, not twenty-thou in there.

The stage set was further from the crowd, with a security pit. I didn’t like it that much, since I liked seeing the faces of the audience. The one place the audience was pressed right up against the stage was on the tongue, the short runway up the center that was Ziggy’s domain. I liked it better when the audience could fill in all around the area instead of it just being a bridge across the security pit. But the gap meant fewer flowers reached the stage, and this crowd was so loud, I definitely felt them. The cheers almost felt like a heavy wave, pushing me back up the beach.

It could have been intimidating. It wasn’t. It was exhilarating.

And the lights filled up the place.

And I spent a lot of time during the show inside my own head. But that was okay. I had a lot to think about. Still trying to hit all the stage cues right. Taking in details about how thing were working or weren’t. Flowers. One girl got over the barrier and tried to get to Ziggy, but she basically fell flat into the pit. Security helped her out without being too rough on her, I thought.

A kind of scary moment happened during Candlelight. Couldn’t see the audience except for all the lighters and flashlights and things being held up, but as the song goes on, the lights brighten.

When the lights got all the way up, I could see three security guards in a cluster at the edge of the barrier, waving their arms or something. Took me a moment to figure it out. The audience pressed against the barrier were lifting up a girl’s body. She was limp and they were rescuing her.

At least, I hoped they were rescuing her and not that it was too late. She’s only fainted, I told myself.

They laid her down in the pit and one of the guys was fanning her face, which I took to be a sign she was still alive. Then I had to go hit a cue at center stage and by the time I got back to my spot she was nowhere to be seen.

I wondered if I’d remember to ask later about her, or if I’d just always wonder if she was okay. But as it turned out, when we came off stage after our final bows, and I went to change my clothes, there was a paramedic in the men’s room. A big black guy, he was just finished taking a leak, and was zipping up his heavy uniform jacket.

“Hey, were you here for a girl who fainted?” I asked.

He nodded. “You her family?”

I laughed. “No, I’m one of the performers. Just wondered if she was okay.”

“She’s fine, but we’re trying to get her back to her parents. She doesn’t need a trip to the ER and the last thing we want is to strand her at some strange hospital. Parents are probably freaking out.” He shrugged.

“Did you tell security?”

“Yeah, they’re looking. We’ll find them once the crowd thins out, I’m sure.”

“Would an autograph make her feel better, you think?”

“What do you think, rock star?” He broke into a grin. “Come on, we’ll see if she’s still here.”

He led me back to the loading dock where the ambulance was parked. He chuckled as we approached. “I see someone beat you to it.”

She was a cute girl, maybe sixteen, in a flowery print dress, sitting on the back of the ambulance, and Ziggy was sitting next to her, posing for photographs. Her parents then got in the next shot. There were quite a number of flashbulbs and I saw a number of press passes around the necks of the guys with big lenses. Okay, cool.

Now here’s what I didn’t expect. When the girl caught sight of me, she squealed, jumped up, and ran into my arms. Flash flash flash.

I disentangled myself in as gentlemanly a fashion as I could manage, and we posed for another round of photos, some snapped by her mom with their instamatic camera, and then venue security broke it up saying we had all better move along. Phew.

As we walked the back hallway to the green room, Ziggy said to me, “Apparently, you’re her favorite.”

“That just doesn’t compute,” I said, shaking my head a little. “You’re the sex symbol.”

“You’re the safe one,” he answered. “Shit, even her mom lit up like a roman candle when you came along.”

I looked at him as we walked. “You don’t sound the least bit jealous.”

“Should I be?”

“No, not at all, just… you know.” I gave him a look.

“Yeah, I know, I’m supposed to be the center of attention at all times and have a snit when I’m not.” He shrugged. “Maybe I’m getting jaded. Or maybe it’s just worth the amusement to see it happening to you for a change.”

“Heh. It’s weird. But I could get used to it.”

“To being the lust object of teenage girls everywhere?”

“No, you being snitless.”

“Miracle of modern science,” he said. “See you back at the hotel.”

“Right.” I went to make sure Colin had everything in order, and then off we went.


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